Hummingbird Basics: What Flowers Will Attract Hummingbirds?

Many different flowers can bring hummingbirds to your yard, but do you know which blooms are truly best to bring flocks of hungry hummers to visit? Plant these top blooms in your yard and you'll be amazed at how many hummingbirds love them.

Qualities of the Best Hummingbird Flowers

It's a common misconception that any red flower will attract hummingbirds. While these birds are attracted to the color red and may investigate any red bloom – or a red fence, gazing ball, planter pot or any other red feature in your yard, including the red on hummingbird feeders – it is nectar they need, and not all red flowers are a good nectar source. Some of the most beautiful and popular red flowers, such as roses and tulips, actually have no nectar at all and are terrible for hummingbirds. Instead, the best flowers to attract hummingbirds will be…

  • Nectar-Rich – Flowers will naturally replenish their nectar supply to bring hummingbirds back again and again, and backyard birders don't need to worry about refills or cleaning. Occasional dead-heading will encourage these flowers to keep on blooming, so there will always be a ready supply of nectar to nourish hummingbirds.
  • Tubular-Shaped – Hummingbirds have evolved long, needle-like bills to probe deep into narrow flowers so they can access the bloom's nectar. Long, tubular-shaped flowers have likewise evolved to accommodate hummingbirds with a good nectar source. Other insects and animals will have difficulty feeding on these flowers, making them ideal for hummers.
  • Long-Blooming – Flowers with a very short bloom season may be good as a brief food source, but vines, shrubs and flowers with much longer blooming times and weeks of bright flowers are a better option to continue feeding hummingbirds. Flowers that bloom early in spring and late in fall are especially valuable for migrating hummingbirds.
  • Colorful – While red is hummingbirds' favorite color, any brightly colored flower will attract their attention. Shades of pink, purple, orange, yellow and white can be just as valuable for attracting hummingbirds, and a more colorful backyard will be more aesthetically appealing and attract even more species of other birds as well.

Very Best Flowers for Hummingbirds

There are many great flowers you can add to your yard to entice hummers to visit, and some of the most popular and easiest to cultivate include…

  • Bee balm
  • Bleeding heart
  • Butterfly bush
  • Bottlebrush
  • Cardinal flower
  • Columbine
  • Coneflower
  • Coral bells
  • Fuchsia
  • Garden phlox
  • Hibiscus
  • Honeysuckle
  • Larkspur
  • Lupine
  • Penstemon
  • Petunia
  • Red hot poker
  • Salvia
  • Trumpet creeper
  • Zinnia

The exact flowers you ought to add to your yard will vary depending on your soil quality, sunlight levels, overall space, climate, moisture levels and other factors. If your yard isn't quite right for these blooms, don't worry – they can also be added to window boxes or containers. Opting for cultivars of these flowers that are native to your region will be most effective, since they will thrive more easily in local conditions and hummingbirds will recognize the flowers more quickly. Choose a variety of plants to provide even more nectar and suit birds' different tastes and feeding preferences. Planting in tiers with taller flowers, shrubs or vines at the back of a flowerbed and shorter plants in front will give more birds greater access to the nectar, while providing you with superior views to watch hummingbirds sip away.

It can be very rewarding to see hummingbirds visit your flowerbeds, and if you plant the perfect blooms, you'll see more and more of these birds flitting about from flower to flower as they sip the nutritious nectar.

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay

Melissa Mayntz

About Melissa Mayntz

Melissa Mayntz is a birder and a writer, naturally writing about birds. Her work has appeared with The Spruce, Farmers' Almanac, National Wildlife Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest and other publications. She is the author of Migration: Exploring the Remarkable Journeys of Birds (Quadrille Publishing, 2020), and is transforming her suburban backyard into prime bird habitat. Be Your Own Birder.